Blanc facing interview on 'racial quotas'

French football coach facing inquiry as part of an investigation into comments over racial quotas.

    Blanc has denied accusations of racism [AFP]

    Beleaguered France coach Laurent Blanc will meet French football federation and Sport Ministry officials later today as part of an investigation into an ongoing row over racial quotas.

    Blanc has been summoned to explain his version of events after the Mediapart website released a transcript of a meeting that took place last November in which Blanc and French officials allegedly discussed introducing quotas on the number of dual-nationality players at youth training centres.

    A ministerial source has revealed that the meeting will take place in Paris, and Sports Ministry inspectors have until Monday evening to establish their report.

    Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno's final presentation of the findings is likely to be released on Tuesday.

    Under fire

    Blanc has been in the spotlight since reports last month that the idea of quotas for youth players of Arab and African origin were discussed at the football federation meeting.

    France Football Federation (FFF) technical director Francois Blaquart, who also took part in the discussions, was provisionally suspended pending the results of the inquiry.
     
    Blanc has denied accusations of racism and said any comments he made at the meeting last year into dual nationality players were taken out of context but could "offend some sensibilities".

    Several members of France's 1998 squad have since spoken out about the affair including Zinedine Zidane, the iconic star of that side, who on Saturday voiced his support for the coach.

    Asked if Blanc's words in the meeting were discriminatory, Zidane said: "No, and concerning Laurent, let's be straight and clear: I know him well, of course he's not racist.

    "I'll go even further: he never even thinks like that because it's not an issue for him. I think that's why he got drawn into a discussion like that."

    Lilian Thuram and Patrick Vieira have both strongly criticised Blanc, with Christophe Dugarry, Marcel Desailly, Bixente Lizarazu and World Cup winning coach Aime Jacquet rallying to his defence.

    The controversy comes less than a year after France's disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa when the national side went on a training ground strike.

    Former captain Patrice Evra was one of four players punished for the strike, which was called in protest at the exclusion of striker Nicolas Anelka from the World Cup after he clashed with former coach Raymond Domenech.

    Blanc took over from Domenech with the task of rebuilding the squad and they are currently top of their Euro 2012 qualifying group.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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